(Originally Posted by Creeping Jennie on Sunday, 01 March 2015 in Sturgis.com Blogs)
People in our Facebook group often ask "What's the best campground to stay at during the Rally?" My admins and I just roll our eyes and mutter, "Here we go again." Why such a negative reaction? It seems like a legitimate question! Perhaps it would be, if we had a little more information. Usually what results is a "Coke Vs. Pepsi" type debate.
The simple answer is that there is no simple answer. We all come to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally for different reasons, do different things while we are here, and have different likes and dislikes.
It may sound blasphemous, but my crew doesn't really ride during the Rally. We are, for the most part, locals, and we can and do ride any time we want. (And as employment and other obligations allow) Those who are not locals usually come early and get some riding in before Rally Week. We find the roads to be too crowded. For my crew, it's all about the party and camaraderie. We go to the concerts and enjoy the party wherever we happen to be. For us, the Legendary Buffalo Chip is the place to be. But hey, that's our thing.
We have friends who come from out of state, and enjoy staying at Glencoe. They say the party atmosphere can't be beat. They enjoy the famous Titty Alley and the Naked Parade. But hey, that's their thing.
Some people like Lamphere because they like to get up early and ride. The Quiet Time policy ensures that partiers won't keep them awake all hours of the night. But hey, that's their thing.
Some people stay at Shade Valley because there is plenty of shade, entertainment at the Eye Candy Saloon, and all for a reasonable price. But hey, that's their thing.
Some people like to camp out in a local's yard, because it's closest to the old days of the Rally, but hey, that's their thing.
There are so many reasons to stay in all of the places in and around Sturgis that I can't possibly list them all. Not surprisingly, people can get very defensive of their favorites, and insist that what they do is "best." I understand that my way is not the only way, and I would never tell someone that they are doing it wrong.
Some people have had unpleasant experiences in the past, and insist that everyone else will have the same experience. It's best to realize that everyone is not going to have a perfect experience 100% of the time, and that often, poor experiences are a result of high expectations, poor choices, ignorance of policies, or a mismatch of preferences vs. facilities.
For instance, if you hear a rumor that Sturgis is a big naked free for all, and staff at a campground's bar will not let your old lady enter the bar topless, then you are going to have a bad experience.
People who are expecting four star accommodations simply based on the price they pay for a week of camping will be disappointed no matter where they stay.
People who are not into the parties, and wish to get up early and ride will not enjoy the drunken two am antics of their neighbors at either of the "big two" campgrounds.
Those who are not aware of the Buffalo Chip's policy of not allowing outside alcohol into the campground will not be happy when their camper or saddlebags are searched and their booze is confiscated at the gate.
It's perfectly reasonable for anyone who has had a bad experience to vocalize their displeasure. We all do it. There are places that I will not go because of bad experiences, and I am not shy about telling people.
The best advice I can give regarding which campground to choose is simply this:
Know what your preferences are. If you want to be close to downtown, then look at the campgrounds close to downtown. If you want a party, then look for the party campgrounds. Figure out what your expectations are.
Do your research. Honestly, I hate this phrase. Usually on the internet, it means, "Google something until you find a page that agrees with my point of view." That's not what I'm telling you. Ask around. Join a message board or Facebook group for Sturgis Rally Goers. Be specific when you ask questions. Google is your friend! Check out Trip Adviser and Yelp.
Get it straight from the horse's mouth. Go directly to the campground's website. Read policies and prices. Find out what your stay includes. Discover what amenities are available.
If, after carefully researching your choice of campground, you discover that it's not what you thought it was, or find it unsatisfactory, vote with your feet. Don't go back there next time. There are plenty of choices.